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Rusty Miller | The Associated Press | March 28, 2014

Ross leaving Ohio State a year early to pursue pro career

LaQuinton Ross LaQuinton Ross averaged 15.2 points and 5.9 rebounds a game this past season.

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- LaQuinton Ross, Ohio State's leading scorer and rebounder, notified head coach Thad Matta on Friday that he plans to give up his senior season to pursue a pro career.

Ross, a 6-foot-8 junior from Jackson, Miss., averaged 15.2 points and 5.9 rebounds a game while leading the Buckeyes to a 25-10 record last season that ended with a second-round 60-59 loss to Dayton in the NCAA tournament.

''My experience at Ohio State has been incredible,'' Ross said in a statement. ''Coach Matta, my teammates and the staff were amazing to work with on a daily basis. My goal has always been to play at the next level and I believe now is the best time.''

He scored at least 15 points in 18 of his last 26 regular-season games and hit double figures in 17 of his final 19 games overall.

Ross becomes the second Buckeyes player in a week to leave the program early. Substitute guard Amedeo Della Valle announced late last week he was withdrawing from Ohio State after his sophomore season to play pro ball in Europe.

Some early projections have Ross listed as a late first- to second-round selection in the NBA draft.

Ross started all 35 games as a junior and appeared in 81 games during his career. He scored a total of 858 career points (10.6 per game) on 299 of 662 shooting from the field.

''LaQuinton was an instrumental part of our success over the last three years,'' Matta said. ''His goal is to compete at the highest level possible. He will have that opportunity because of the work he has put in to prepare for this day. He will be missed at Ohio State and we wish him nothing but the very best.''

The Buckeyes will return two starters -- center Amir Williams and forward Sam Thompson -- along with sixth-man point guard Shannon Scott.

Also back are substitute center Trey McDonald and redshirt-freshman shooting guard Kam Williams. The four-player recruiting class includes D'Angelo Russell, a highly touted 6-5 guard from Louisville, along with 6-7 forward Keita Bates-Diop, 6-4 guard Jae'Sean Tate and 6-10 center David Bell.

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